Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent Year B
Theme: Preparing for His return
By: Rev Fr. Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
Homily for Sunday November 29 2020
First Reading: Isaiah 63b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
Resp. Psalm: Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel Reading: Mark 13:33-37
Today is the 1st Sunday of Advent and it marks the beginning of a new Liturgical Year. The readings for Sunday Mass are arranged on a three-year cycle. Each year features a different Gospel—Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Readings from the Gospel of John are interspersed throughout all three years. With this year’s first Sunday of Advent, we begin Cycle B of the Lectionary, which focuses our attention on the Gospel of Mark.
Our liturgy today reminds us that Advent is more than our preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas. Advent is about preparing ourselves for Christ’s return in glory at the end of time. Like the disciples and the faithful in Mark’s community, we must also stay alert and watchful. Our faithfulness to God, through the good times as well as the difficult times, shows us to be ready for the coming of the Son of Man.
The first reading from the prophet Isaiah talks about the love our Father has for us and our desperate need for Him, so that our hearts do not get hardened to the point that we stray away from Him. In this passage Isaiah is asking God to “rend the heavens and come down,” because we are waiting for you. This reading from Isaiah quickly calls to mind the passage in the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 8:19-24 when Paul tells us all creation groans in labour pains, not only creation but we “ourselves groan inwardly as we await as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Even the Responsorial Psalm (Ps. 80) asks God to rouse His power “and come to save us.” One of the most beautiful songs during Advent is “O Come Emmanuel” and states that we are a people in exile who need to be ransomed, captive Israel. The gospel reminds us to be patient, watchful, vigilant and alert for we do not know when he is coming!
Inability to wait seems to be one of the problems of the modern man. Every hour looks like forever. Let us take a look at our public places like hospitals, gas stations, banks, highways and before traffic lights, you will marvel at the high level of our impatience. Many people always want to move too fast. Our inability to wait also tells us about our impatience with God. God acts according to his timing, as the Bible says: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman…” (Galatians 4:4).
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote about patience: “Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing’, it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way”. Patience is an important virtue to put on as the best impressive clothe during advent.
We are already in the month of December, the most critical month of the year. It’s a time of the year when everyone wants to meet up with every material need. Many are tempted to do all sorts of bad things to meet up. Hence, many are seduced to lies, deception, fraud, immorality, murder (ritual killing), blackmailing, kidnapping etc. There are two most important virtues every Christian should pray for this season. They are: courage to endure and patience to wait. No matter how long it will take, God’s promise will come to fulfilment. And “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is. 40:31).
God requires a watchful Advent from us as Jesus makes clear in the gospel of today “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” When Jesus warns us to not be asleep when he returns in his glory, this does not mean that we can never sleep… What is being referred to here is a sleep of the soul: we must avoid falling asleep spiritually. We must be careful not to fall into one grave sin or another, which would cause us to die spiritually, and thus to sleep with the sleep of spiritual death. Then, we must take care not to doze off: we must keep our soul in spiritual joy. Focusing on readiness, living in the presence of the Lord at every moment of our lives, is the legacy of Jesus Christ to all of us.
*Rev Fr. Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*